LIMON, Costa Rica --
Marines and sailors of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise 2010 made friendships and partnerships through hard work in Costa Rica providing humanitarian support to the communities, Aug. 20-30.
“It was an honor being able to see Marines working with Costa Ricans and exchanging knowledge with one another,” said Lt. Col. Chris S. Richie, commanding officer of Special-Purpose MAGTF CP10. “The Marines played a key role in the overall success of the CP10 mission in Costa Rica, and I am incredibly pleased with their performance.”
Marines not only conducted subject-matter expert exchange with Costa Rican police officers but also served as translators for the medical sites, provided construction and manpower through engineering expertise and participated in community relation activities at schools to assist non-government organizations.
“It makes me proud to be a part of a humanitarian mission in this country,” said Sgt. Kenneth L. Gutierrez, native of Miami, Fla., and crewman of Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion. “I have family in this country and it’s an honor to be able to help them. I feel this is why I became a Marine … to help the hearts and minds of people.”
Marines from the Logistic Combat Element of the Special-Purpose MAGTF joined hands with Navy Seabees in construction at two Costa Rican schools. The Marines and Seabees installed chain-linked fences, rebuilt roofs and painted inside and outside classrooms.
For ten days, approximately 20 Marines from the LCE worked at the schools building a better school environment for more than 450 students at Hone Creek School and 30 students at Westfalia School.
“We have been working at Westfalia and Hone Creek Schools by painting, rebuilding roofs and building fences in Costa Rica,” said Navy Capt. Thomas M. Negus, commodore of Continuing Promise 2010. “But we have been building relationships and that’s the important thing. The relationships and partnerships we make during Continuing Promise are very important to us.”
While Marines worked at medical sites and engineering sites, Marines from Company A, 2nd AA Bn., Ground Combat Element of Special-Purpose MAGTF conducted a seven-day subject-matter expert exchange with Costa Rican police officers and coastguardsmen at El Murcielago training camp on the Pacific coast of the country.
Costa Ricans worked with Marines in learning Marine Corps Martial Arts, non-lethal weapons tactics, familiarizing with aircraft take-offs and landings, and humanitarian aid and disaster responses.
“Being a U.S. Marine is patriotic, but it’s also having a kind heart and helping out our neighbors,” said Gutierrez. “It’s good to show them our capabilities and how we can help them, and maybe one day they’ll do the same for us.”
For many Marines and sailors, this was there first time in Costa Rica. Continuing Promise gave them the opportunity to meet the Costa Rican people and learn about their way of life.
“Our work has been given meaning by the people we have met,” said Negus. “We have truly seen the beauty of Costa Rica with our eyes, but we have truly seen the beauty of the Costa Rican people with our hearts.”
During operations in Costa Rica, Richie and Negus assisted the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica at the medical, engineer and community relations sites in Costa Rica. The ambassador also visited the USS Iwo Jima to grab the overall mission of CP10.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank commodore Negus and the crew of USS Iwo Jima for coming to Costa Rica and working so diligently in making Continuing Promise mission a success,” said Anne S. Andrew, the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica. “It’s been rewarding to see what Continuing Promise mission means to Limon, and we look forward to continuing our promise in the future.”
For more information on the Continuing Promise 2010 Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, please visit the unit’s official website at http://www.marines.mil/unti/2ndMAW/SPMAGTF.